Howell to Blade: AHA should adopt unique identifier system
The Washington Blade
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[published in the January 1, 1999 issue of The Washington Blade]
Although officials at the District’s Agency for HIV/AIDS (AHA) have declared that they must implement a names reporting system for people with HIV, simple prudence should encourage them not to reject a vastly preferable unique identifier system that would respect legitimate concerns about confidentiality (Dec. 18, Blade).
AHA should realize that implementation of a names reporting system would defy the expressed promises of our new mayor, Anthony Williams (D), Council Chair Linda Cropp (D), and a majority of the D.C. Council.
During the 1998 primary and general elections, questionnaires sent to all candidates by the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) asked whether they would oppose measures such as were recently enacted in New York ordering doctors to report to public health authorities the names of people testing positive for HIV.
Williams responded, "I oppose such legislation in D.C. and would veto it if necessary. I am not yet convinced that the protections are in place to safeguard those persons with HIV/AIDS from discrimination."
Council Chair Linda Cropp replied, "Yes, I do not support the reporting of names of persons who have tested positive for HIV. Such reporting will result in persons not being tested for fear of exposing themselves to possible discrimination. … The anonymous tracking of incidences of HIV could assist public health authorities in their prevention and outreach efforts."
Councilmembers David Catania (R-At large), Phil Mendelson (D-At large), Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3), and Sharon Ambrose (D-Ward 6) similarly expressed opposition to a names reporting system in their responses to the GLAA questionnaire.
The full texts of these and other candidates’ replies on the names reporting issue may be viewed at the GLAA Web site at www.glaa.org. Printed copies can be mailed to anyone who calls GLAA at (202) 667-5139 and leaves a mailing address.
Effective unique identifier systems are already in place in a number of states. AHA should move quickly to follow their good example.
Craig Howell, President
Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance